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Tour Everglades Park Florida

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    Everglades National Park
    40001 SR-9336, Homestead FL 33034; (305) 242-7700; NPS Website;

    Florida Everglades includes just over 1.5 million acres of scenic, slow-moving, subtropical, marshy wilderness protected since 1947 (bigger than the state of Delaware). Draining into Florida Bay and covered in places by tall prairie grasses and mangrove forests, this parks is best known for its rich and varied wildlife of crocodiles, alligators, manatees, ospreys, bald eagles and herons. Bring lots of mosquito repellent.

    The Everglades is essentially a slow moving freshwater river, over 50 miles wide and just a few inches deep, originating at Lake Okeechobee and draining into Florida Bay. Much of the area is a collection of mangroves waterways, sawgrass marsh, hammocks and salt prairies.

    Adjacent to the park and part of the Everglades wilderness are Everglades City (the backdoor entrance) and Big Cypress National Reserve, a protected area that helps to safeguard the fragile Everglades ecosystem. These areas offer additional opportunities to explore and enjoy the Everglades.

    Ten Thousand Islands
    This part of the park is unusual collection of tide-swept maze of islands, oyster bars and mud shallows.

    Ernest Coe Visitor Center
    40001 SR-9336; Free; Open Daily 8AM-5PM; (305) 242-7700;

    Gulf Coast Visitor Center
    Everglades City; Free; Open Daily 8:30AM-5PM; (941) 695-3311;

    Royal Palm Visitor Center
    SR-9336; Free; Open Daily 8AM-5PM; (305) 245-6211;

    Flamingo
    Main park headquarters located 38 miles west from the Homestead park entrance. This old fishing village has tour guides, lodging, concession stands,

    Florida Panther National Wildlife Refuge
    25,000 acres set aside in 1989 to further extend the protected area of the delicate Everglades ecosystem.


    Scenic Trails

    See this section for a long listing of major tour trails and paths prepared and maintained by the National Park Service. These trails are usually easily accessible and take you to have close encounters with local wildlife and vegetation.

    SR-9336:
    This scenic route running between park headquarters and Flamingo has five major boardwalk and blacktop nature trails.

  • Ahinga Trail - Starting from Royal Palm Visitor Center, this boardwalk takes you close to alligators, snowy egrets, water turkeys and garfish.
  • Gumbo Limbo Trail - Starting from Royal Palm Visitor Center, this boardwalk takes you to the interior of Paradise Key hammock with its abundance of vegetation.
  • Long Pine Key - Camping, picniking and vehicle scenic trail.
  • Mahogany hammock - 19.5 miles from park entrance, elevated boardwalk trail to hammock of mahogany trees and other subtropical plants.
  • Mangrove Trail - 30 miles from park entrance at West Lake, elevated boardwalk.

    Tamiami Trail (US-41):
    This highway skirts the northern park border. Several trailheads are located in the Shark Valley area.

  • Otter Cave Trail - Visits limestone formations and tropical hammock.
  • Pa-Hay-Okee Overlook - Lookout with scenic views of the vast sawgrass wilderness.

    Chekika:
    Located 18 miles northwest of Homestead off SR-997, this 640 acres of hardwood hammocks and wetlands are home to over 100 species of birds.


    Airboat Rides

    Several airboat tour guides are located along the Tamiami Trail (US-41).


    Wildlife

    A brief description of some of the nd endangered species that make their home in the Everglades. Over 600 species of fish, alligators, snakes and sea turtles are common to the area. This parks is best known for its rich and varied wildlife including bear, panther, crocodiles, alligators, manatees.

  • Manatee - This sea cow is a large air-breathing, vegetarian marine mammal that finds pasteur in the many lagoons of the area.
  • Alligator - The blunt nose creature which sticks to freshwater is a celebrated swamp dweller.
  • Crocodile - Long narrow nose creature is more rare and prefers saltwater habitat.
  • Bottlenose Dolphin - Another marine mammal that is occasionally seen in the park waterways.
  • Giant Loggerhead Sea Turtles - Between June and August, these sea creatures crawl onto the beach to lay their eggs at Cape Sable.


    Flora and Vegetation

    Much of the tropical/subtropical trees and flowers found here are similar to those found in Cuba and the West Indies. Particularly well known are the famous Mangroves. There are also abundant varieties of ferns, lilies, orchids and air plants. See the Scenic Trails section above to find good encounter areas. A number of big trees were uprooted and lost in 1992 when Hurricane Andrew cut a 20 mile wide swath through the park.

  • Palm Trees - At least six species of palm trees are here including the stately Royal Palm which can be found in the greatest concentration around Royal Palm Visitor Center.
  • Sawgrass - Beware, its sharp barbs can easily slash through bare skin and thin clothing.
  • Bald Cypress - Tall Tree
  • Pinewood Forests - Hilltop hammock locations


    Birding

    The Everglades are the winter home for over 350 species of birds, 60 percent of which migrate north during summer. Look for ospreys, bald eagles, ibis, and herons and other beautiful tropical birdlife not seen anywhere else in the states. Several species of hawk, woodpeckers and kite live here also.

  • Cape Sable Sparrow - species unique only to the southern tip of Florida
  • Great White Heron - species unique only to the southern tip of Florida, seven-foot spread from wing tip to wing tip.
  • Migrating shorebirds - include willets and avoets.
  • Spoonbills - large wader, big pink birds with a touch of crimson.
  • Woodstorks - another large wader, the only storks in the U.S., these are huge birds with pure white feathers contrasting with black wing tips.
  • Brown Pelicans - Usually found flying in formation along the shoreline.
  • Night Herons - Yellow-crowned and block-crowned night herons live over mangrove swamp islands.


    Fish & Game

    Some of the best fishing spots in and around the Everglades. Snapper and Sea Trout are plentiful. A fishing license is required for all areas and bag limits are strictly enforced for both freshwater and seawater fishing. Other game besides fish include crustaceans and shellfish. Other fish include Tarpon and Redfish.


    Boating and Canoeing

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    Waterways:
    Few people are actually familiar with the waterways of the Everglades, most of which have been charted by the US Coast and Geodetic Survey. Boaters should obtain these charts at any area bait and tackle shop.

    Cape Sable
    Southernmost point of the U.S. mainland, accessible only by boat or canoe. The cape has white beaches, desertlike vegetation, yucca and cactus. Primitive campsites.

    Canoe Trails:
    Four marked trails (ranging from 4 to 22 mile long round trips) originate from the Flamingo area. Many primitive campsites are located along these trails.

    Wilderness Waterway
    99-mile canoe trail that winds between Flamingo and Everglades City. Highly recommend for boaters to see this secluded portion of the park.

    Shark River:
    Navigable for most small boats.

    Tour Everglades Park Florida


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Related Websites
Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan - To restore and preserve this American treasure, enhance water supplies, and maintain flood protection, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in partnership with the South Florida Water Management District and numerous other federal, state, local and tribal partners, has developed a plan to save the Everglades.
Everglades Online
Everglades Parks Conservation [NPCA] - There are no other Everglades in the world today.
Everglades Airboat VIP Guided Tours
Everglades Alligator Farm
Everglades Scenic Trail - an educational, scenic, eco-tour of the Everglades.
Everglades Refuge Association - Everglades Conservation.
Key West Planner - travel planner

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